Top 5 all-time punt returners in Cleveland Browns history
The Cleveland Browns have had some great punt returners over the history of the organization. However, over recent years the team hasn’t had much success in this department, so when Donovan Peoples-Jones ran a punt back 76 yards for a touchdown to spark his team to a lead against the Houston Texans, it was a sight for sore eyes.
DPJ has been becoming increasingly better in this part of his game. Could he make an even bigger impact in this department moving forward? Some of the very best to have played for the Browns had some great years while contributing to the return game.
It’s still early in his career, but DPJ has that ability to elude defenders when he takes those punts, and he could be on the cusp of taking another return back soon.
While we ponder that idea, we’re going to travel down “memory lane” of seasons past and look at the top five punt returners in Cleveland history. Maybe you have a good guess as to who’s No. 1 but let’s first start with No. 5.
Cleveland Browns – No. 5: Bobby Mitchell, 1958-1961
Bobby Mitchell is probably best known with the Browns as teaming up with Jim Brown and helping make their run game one of the best. Cleveland football prides itself on having good run games and that was no different back in the 1950s.
Mitchell also returned kick and punt returns and made a name for himself right as he returned a kickoff 98 yards for a score and also a punt return 68 yards for a touchdown in his rookie season. He returned 14 punts that the first season with an 11.79 yards per return average. He also returned 18 kicks that season with an impressive 25-yard average.
The former Illinois college player would go on to run two more kick returns for 90 and 91 yards in the next two seasons with the Browns. He also added a 78 and 64-yard punt return touchdowns.
In 1962, Cleveland traded Mitchell to the Washington Redskins and in return, they got back Ernie Davis, the young rookie running back that was going to be the next teammate of Jim Brown. Davis was coming from Syracuse, the same college that Brown had attended. Unfortunately, Davis became sick with leukemia soon after being drafted and never played a down for Cleveland.
Mitchell went on to have a great career in Washington and played another seven seasons. He’s now in the Hall of Fame.